Uphaar cinema owner Gopal Ansal surrendered before Tihar Jail authorities on Monday evening, hours after the Supreme Court rejected his plea for more time to hand himself over. Ansal and his brother Sushil owned the South Delhi theatre, where 55 moviegoers died after it caught fire in 1997. Ansal will now serve a one-year jail term.
Earlier in the day, the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar had told Ansal’s lawyer Ram Jethmalani that it cannot wait till President Pranab Mukherjee takes a call on Ansal’s mercy petition. Jethmalani had argued before the court that since the president was not available, Ansal should be given more time till a decision is made on his petition.
On February 9, the top court had sentenced Ansal to jail for a year in connection with the fire. He was asked to surrender within four weeks. Ansal has already spent four months in jail.
The court had spared Sushil Ansal because of his age. He is 77 years old.
The fire broke out during an afternoon screening of Bollywood film Border. Most of the victims died of suffocation, while several others were injured in the stampede that ensued. The cinema hall authorities had blocked the exit doors to add more seats, which left people trapped inside.